Scientific Name: Chiroptera
Classification: Nongame
Abundance: Locally abundant 

Species Profile (PDF)

Coexisting with Bats (PDF)

Virginia Big-Eared Bat Species Profile (PDF)

Photo: Katherine Caldwell



Bats represent one-quarter of all mammal species worldwide. Like us, they give birth to live young. Bats are relatively long-lived mammals and can survive 20 to 30 years in the wild. Of the 17 bat species that occur in North Carolina, three are listed as federally Endangered and one is listed as federally Threatened. Bats are primarily nocturnal, though they also forage in the early evening and early morning hours. Although most bats have relatively good eyesight, they primarily use echolocation to navigate and locate prey. Their maneuverability is phenomenal—bats can avoid objects as small as a string in total darkness. Bats mate in the spring or fall and usually produce one pup per year. Many species form maternity colonies in the summer to raise their young, while others are solitary roosters. Some bat species migrate south for the winter and others find local hibernation areas, called hibernacula, for the winter. Bats prefer caves or mines for hibernacula, though they have also been known to use buildings and bridges, and they usually return to the same site every year.

For more information on bats read the Bat species profile.

Bats are integral to ecosystems worldwide. Tropical bats disperse large amounts of seed and pollen, enabling plant reproduction and forest regrowth, and are especially important in the pollination of cocoa, mango, and the agave plant, which is used to produce tequila. North American bats have a major impact on controlling insect populations that are considered agricultural pests. They save the corn industry over $1
billion annually in pest control. A nursing female bat may consume almost her entire body weight in insects in one night. 

Although bats are an intergral part of our environment, occassionally they can become a nuisance species when they interrupt our daily lives by entering homes, schools or other structures. Read our 

Coexisting with Bats (PDF) document for useful tips to avoid negative interactions with bats. 

Bats are a nongame species. No hunting or trapping of bats is allowed. 

Many bat populations in the United States have declined in recent years. Pesticides, persecution, and human disturbance of hibernacula and maternity colonies may have contributed to this decline. Furthermore, an emergent fungal disease called white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than 5.7 million bats since its discovery in New York in 2006. This disease spread to NC in 2011, and continues to spread to new states each winter. It is now found in 30 states. To determine bat distribution and hibernation sites in North Carolina, track the spread of WNS, and estimate population trends for certain species, the NCWRC conducts monitoring across the state. Through a variety of methods (including mist netting, trapping, banding, acoustic recording, roost monitoring, and radio telemetry), NCWRC biologists, in cooperation with several partners, have surveyed and banded thousands of bats in North Carolina. All of this work helps to inform management.


Read the N.C. White-nose Syndrome Surveillance Response Plan